Sloane Stephens says she continues to struggle with wrist problems coming into Indian Wells, but is looking to play more convincing tennis after suffering first-round losses at the recent Doha and Dubai tournaments.
Stephens told USA Today that her wrist injury stemmed from a ligament problem that had begun affecting her at Hopman Cup, but the exact issue had not been identified despite being examined by five specialists.
"I have like an old person's wrist that kinda just messes up when it wants to and gives me some trouble," she said. "I don't even know what the actual diagnosis is."
Despite being hampered physically, Stephens has continued last year's tendency to play well at Grand Slams but not other events. She reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open but has not won a set since and has been criticized for her lackluster demeanor.
"Some things I let slip away," she admitted. "I'm just trying to grab it by the horns when it's there.''
But the young American added she was still learning to find a balance on and off the court. She has changed her team over the past few months, including hiring Paul Annacone, the former coach of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, and hitting partner Andrew Fitzpatrick.
"I think people forget that there's a normal life that you have to live outside of being on the tennis court all the time," she said. "I'm a regular 20-year old girl. I sometimes need to, like, talk to Paul about my boy problems or I need to talk to Andrew about how stupid my best friend is."
The world No. 18 has also struggled to deal with the attention and occasional criticism she has received since last year, following her semifinal showing at the Australian Open and much-publicized comments about Serena Williams.
"There's going to be a lot of things that happen throughout the year and some things are super frustrating that I don't want to deal with half the time," she said. "But at the end of the day you have to be patient, otherwise things will just not happen."